Crime & Courts

Gov. McMaster removes SC mayor from office for domestic violence

John Hansen, former mayor of Ware Shoals, SC.
John Hansen, former mayor of Ware Shoals, SC.

Gov. Henry McMaster has removed a South Carolina mayor from his position.

John Kay Hansen, the mayor of Ware Shoals in the Upstate, was dismissed from his job Friday. The governor took action after Hansen pleaded guilty to third-degree domestic violence, according to McMaster’s executive order.

Hansen was indicted by a grand jury in Greenwood County for one count of second-degree domestic violence and one count of third-degree domestic violence.

In September 2016, Hansen pushed his then-wife against a wall and onto a bed, where they struggled over her cellphone, reported Adam Benson and Damian Dominguez of the Greenwood Index-Journal. He was arrested in December 2016.

“He also said that if she called police, he’d say she raised her hands and he thought she was going to hit him,” said Assistant 8th Circuit Solicitor Carson Penney, according to the Index-Journal.

Hansen pleaded guilty on June 7 to domestic violence in a deal with prosecutors.

Hansen was elected in 2012 and again in 2016 as mayor of Ware Shoals, which is in Abbeville, Greenwood and Laurens counties.

The state Constitution allows the governor of South Carolina to remove “any officer of the State or its political subdivisions” if they are indicted by a grand jury for crimes involving “moral turpitude.” If a political officeholder is convicted of a crime, the governor then declares the convicted person’s political position vacant.

walkers show support for survivors of domestic violence

McMaster’s executive order against Hansen gave the definition of moral turpitude. Moral turpitude “implies something immoral in itself” and “involves an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the social duties which a man owes to his fellow man or society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man.”

In March 2017, former Columbia City Council member Moe Baddourah was suspended from office by McMaster for a crime of moral turpitude. Authorities also charged Baddourah with domestic violence.

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A judge sentenced Hansen to 90 days in jail but reduced that sentence to one night’s imprisonment, according to WHNS in Greenville. Hansen was also ordered to undergo anger management counseling. He is on probation for a year and has a restraining order that bars him from being near his wife, the Index-Journal says.

In court, a victims’ advocate read a statement from Hansen’s now ex-wife.

“I was led to believe that no one would help me because of John’s status as a public official,” the statement said. “I almost lost my self worth, but I know now that I am important — just not to John.”

Hansen was also arrested for domestic violence stemming from a July 2015 attack. The arrest warrant says Hansen pushed a woman against the wall, pulled her hair, painted her face with house paint and spit in her face, WCSC in Charleston reported.

Domestic violence can carry up to 10 years in prison.

South Carolina is one of the worst states in the nation for domestic violence. In 2017, South Carolina ranked in the top five of states for the number of women killed by men. It was the sixth year in a row South Carolina was placed near the top of such a list, according to the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

Read the governor’s full order here.

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